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March 2012

Gamification and Millennials

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by Jordan Bainer, Senior Account Executive at d.trio

Video games were a huge part of my childhood. As a kid, I was obsessed with finding all the hidden whistles in Super Mario Brothers 3 to skip to the last world. The ability to defeat challenges and “level up” was (and is still) a huge motivational driver for me.

I seem to share this trait with my fellow millennials and businesses know this. Companies are using the core principles behind this “level up” strategy to foster my generation’s continued loyalty and brand advocacy. People have coined this strategy gamification, the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging (as defined by Gamification Wiki). Social media has encouraged this trend, setting the rules and allowing for instantaneous “play.” Below are a few steps to consider if you want to build millennial loyalty through gamification:

Ultimate Goal: encourage continued loyalty among current users/consumers

  1. Promote the game via social and owned channels – Describe the rules, what users have to do, and what they get in return.
  2. Define the game’s value to the end user – Communicate what they get out of the game. Nike+ motivates individuals to exercise more by tracking results, building points, and allowing Facebook friends to offer words of encouragement.
  3. Share achievements with friends – Provide social value to users/consumers by communicating achievements to a user’s friend base. Foursquare uses badges to reward an individual’s actions, which are then pushed outward through social channels.
  4. Encourage recruitment of new players – Reward current users/consumers for recruiting new players. USA Network’s show “Psych” rewards its Club Psych players who share with friends by giving away prizes like Nintendo Wii Systems. Not a bad prize given the nature of the program!

Gamification is not for everyone. You have to consider both your audience and product to decide if it’s a correct promotional strategy. If it is determined to be the right move, keep it simple. Games that have unclear rules and don’t allow users to level up quickly are abandoned (which explains my past addiction to Super Mario Brothers 3).


Sources: Gamification Wiki

How Three Businesses Scored Big with Gamification

Pinterest: 6 Do’s and Don’ts for Marketers

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by Jordan Bainer, Senior Account Executive at d.trio

All the internet is abuzz with marketing bloggers, social media experts, and data research firms extolling Pinterest for it’s ability to draw in users to visual stimuli and then drive them elsewhere to find more information and take action. It’s still considered a budding social channel, and there is no indication that it’s growth and significance will wane anytime soon (if the below rate of unique visitor growth stays consistent).


Source: comScore data and @MDGadvertising infographic

We’ve watched this social channel hit critical mass and provide ripe opportunity for marketers to participate with this engaged audience. To help you decide whether your business should jump into the fray, below are 6 “do’s and don’ts” for Pinterest management:

DO – Spend time following your target audience first to see what resonates with them before you beginning posting. By narrowing down your target’s interest categories, you can save time and effort in how you organize your content.

DO – Post often. As with any social channel, taking a break from sharing content can be a relationship killer. Create a plan to post content on a daily or bi-daily basis.

DO – React to your target. Just posting content to your boards isn’t going to start a trusting, two-way conversation. Narrow down a few target audience influencers (those with a significant following of their own) and regularly comment on their postings relevant to your brand (but don’t go too overboard!). In this same vein, do NOT allow a comment to go unanswered on any of your postings. Use this as an opportunity to connect on a personal level.

DON’T – Expect your target audience to find you. Pinterest does a great job finding and suggesting relevant influencers for users to follow, making users less active in searching out relevant friends. Make a goal of connecting with a set number of your target audience each week, hopefully spreading your influence outward.

DON’T – Oversell yourself. Though Pinterest allow users to link images to relevant retail sites, you shouldn’t be using the medium to only sell your wares. Pinterest allows you as a marketer to capture your brand’s essence through related visuals and images relevant to your target audience. Keep a healthy mix of your original content and shared content.

DON’T – Keep Pinterest to yourself. Put a team together that can manage your Pinterest account in order to keep content fresh and invite various opinions/viewpoints. With the ‘boards’ feature, you can easily separate your content by topic/interest/category- making it easy to divvy up the responsibilities of postings and conversations among different individuals. As with any social channel, put a policy in place to help guide the team’s actions without hindering their creativity.

Keep in mind, Pinterest is only one of many social channels that you can use to interact with your target audience(s).  If your company/brand needs to use visuals to get information across, then it may be worth your time to explore this medium. Just remember with all social channels – you get out what you put in.

Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio. New to Minneapolis, he comes from the land of Lincoln (Chicago specifically) where he began as a media planner at Starcom Worldwide and evolved into a account strategist at the higher education focused agency, Lipman Hearne. He spends his time arguing with others on the taste profiles of beer and pretending he’s someone else through improv comedy.